Uganda riots enter second day

At least 10 killed as police clash with supporters of traditional king.

    Security forces have clashed with supporters of a traditional Ugandan king for two days [Reuters]

    The violence erupted on Thursday after Ugandan authorities banned Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, the king of the Baganda people, Uganda's largest ethnic group, from travelling to a region northeast of the capital, citing fears of violence.

    'Heavy crackdown'

    Marc Hofer, an Associated Press photographer in Kampala, told Al Jazeera on Friday: "It erupted very fast. We couldn't see it coming. You had Buganda youth protesting against the government.

    "They deployed a lot of military today and especially in the suburbs because a lot of violence happened there. Right now they seem to have had a heavy crackdown.

    "A lot of people don't necessarily want the violence, but they want the king to be able to move freely"

    Marc Hofer,
    Associated Press news agency photographer

    "A lot of people don't necessarily want the violence, but they want the king to be able to move freely.

    "In general, the government is not very well liked among the Buganda people."

    Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan president, said in a televised address to the nation on Friday that his government would not give in and allow Mutebi into Kayunga county, an area on the edge of his jurisdiction as cultural leader.

    "I told him [the king] that the meeting in Kayunga will not take place until some conditions that will be communicated to him by the minister of internal affairs are met," Museveni said.

    Medard Ssegona, the deputy information minister for Mutebi's Buganda kingdom, said that the community was ready for talks with the government but would not back down in its calls to be allowed into Kayunga.

    "We are not going to be intimidated by the government into giving up our demands," he said.

    Ancient kingdom

    Buganda is one of the east African nation's four ancient kingdoms.

    It was abolished by Milton Obote, the former leader, in 1966 but restored by Museveni in the early 1990s.

    Hassan Isilow, an independent journalist based in South Africa, told Al Jazeera, two issues were causing the problems.

    "It’s about identity. The Baganda greatly associate with their king and believe the president of Uganda doesn't want to give them separate status," he said.

    "The other issue is land. The government believes the king of the Baganda is going on a mobilisation tour telling his people about land issues.

    "In 1966 a similar incident happened when the father of the current traditional leader was exiled to London. This time round we don’t think history will repeat itself, but these tensions are very high in Kampala."

    The Baganda are in the majority in central Uganda and a loss of the group as a voter base could weaken Museveni's position in the country's next election.

    The traditional Baganda king holds a largely ceremonial position in Uganda, but holds considerable influence among his people.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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